Illustration on the roots of Bernie Sanders’ “Democratic Socialism” by Alexander Hunter/The Washington Times
What was bernie Sanders talking about?
By Lawrence Fedewa – – Friday, May 19, 2017
When Bernie Sanders, the socialist senator from Vermont, entered the Democratic primaries last year, a lot of people wondered. “What is democratic socialism?”
The classic definition of socialism is “a system of government in which the means of production and distribution of goods are owned, controlled or regulated by the government.” Socialism is distinguished from capitalism where the means of production and distribution are owned by private (non-governmental) parties, either individuals or organizations (such as companies).
The most radical form of socialism is communism, where all property is owned and distributed by the government. Less radical forms of socialism are seen in the governments of Western Europe, where private property is recognized but government has the responsibility of acquiring (through taxes) enough wealth to provide for physical well-being of all its citizens, however that may be interpreted at any given time.
(AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)
By Lawrence J. Fedewa – – Sunday, April 30, 2017
The first thing to understand is that “democracy’ is a system of governance, and “capitalism” is an economic system. The genius of America has been to unite these two elements into a synergistic whole with the goal of providing every American “the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
The foundation of capitalism is “profits.” A profit occurs when you sell something for more than you paid for it. All taxes depend on profits — no profits, no taxes; no taxes, no government. So, if governments (combining local, state and national) take too much of the profits generated by businesses, there will not be any profits, and the economy will fail — and people will go hungry.
Thus, there will always be a tension between government and business over the amount of profits government takes and the amount kept by businesses. Since there is no accepted “balance,” there is always a tug of war between advocates of “big government” and “limited government,” generally represented these days by the Democrats and the Republicans.
There are some basic issues at stake. First of all, governments generally have the guns, meaning the resources to enforce whatever they want to enforce, whether through confiscation (taxes), incarceration (prison), or militarization (martial law). The basis of democracy is to limit the powers of government so that it treats its citizens according to rules set by the representatives of those citizens. It is the responsibility of these representatives to in fact control the police, the military, and all law enforcement resources in such a way as to nurture the life, liberty and pursuit of happiness of all its citizens. These “rules” are what we call the “law of the land.”
Obviously, it takes money to maintain a government capable of providing all these critically important services. Thus, the need for taxes. But there are no taxes without profits. People have to be motivated to work hard and to take chances with their money. So, what motivations are there which are powerful enough to get people to work hard?
Many motivations have been tried throughout human history. Fear is the most obvious. There can be physical dangers, the extreme of which is slavery. There can be fears of illness, of survival, of boredom, and so on. Most of human history has witnessed fear imposed by masters on slaves as the principal engine of economic activity. This is still rampant in our times — on a macro scale, such as in North Korea and other dictatorships, or on a micro scale such as in human trafficking.
The early history of capitalism was based on a slightly upgraded form of slavery. Where capitalists had no fear of government — or were in fact the government themselves as kings, oligarchies, or dictators — many forms of abusive behavior prevailed, including child labor, company stores, beatings and actual slavery. All human labor was grounded in despair.
Somehow, by the grace of God, the Founders of America — though many were themselves slaveowners — allowed the ideals of hope to shine brightly in the documents and organizations of the new Nation. Nowhere else in human history to that time had a national constitution been adopted which recognized the fundamental rights of all people “endowed by their Creator” (not by the State or the Church or the King) to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. That bias against big government pervades all the American foundation documents. The accompanying bias in favor of personal freedoms was a necessary byproduct of this view, which fit well with the frontier and the agricultural life of most early Americans.
Those early ideals were so firmly imbedded in the American character that we have spent the next 241 years trying to realize in practice the goals set forth by our founders, even to the fighting a war over these ideals, a war which cost 650,000 lives, an entire generation of young men. We have come a long way, but we have still far to go. Our only claim has to be that we never, ever stop striving to achieve for all our citizens life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in the midst of our ever more complicated national life.
So, what motivation tops all others to make a person work hard, take chances, and create new ideas, new things, and new circumstances? That motivation is the desire to provide for a person’s family, to live in peace and security, and to dream big dreams. This is the spark of hope which underlies capitalism and entrepreneurship and a dynamic society. This is the motivation which moves labor from fear to hope, and which provides opportunities for a person to do and become whatever he or she can achieve. This is American capitalism at its best. Americans have spent two centuries rescuing the good of the capitalistic idea, shaving off the evil, and developing the most prosperous and egalitarian society in the history of the world.
The mechanism through which this integration of government and economic freedom has evolved is democracy – a means by which the will of ordinary people can be enforced against the evils of unbridled capitalism, as well as human slavery and degradation. Democratic capitalism, as it has evolved in 21st century America, has set the standard for all the world.
We must, however, be vigilant, and be aware that we have not achieved our ideals, that they are ever under attack, and that the challenges will forever be changing as we continue to create our own American history.
(Copyright, 2017 The Washington Times, LLC)
By Lawrence Fedewa – – Tuesday, March 28, 2017
It all started with Speaker Paul Ryan’s conclusion that a House version of the Obamacare repeal could not get through the Senate without a filibuster by the Democrats. He wasn’t confident that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell could round up the 60 votes required to break a filibuster. But the Speaker has been around Washington for a long time. He figured out a way to get the repeal through both houses of Congress on a straight party line vote.
That left the replace issue facing a Democrat filibuster, but he calculated that he could win enough Democrats to break or even forestall a filibuster if he had enough momentum behind him. After all, by that time, Obamacare would be gone, all the tax savings would be in sight, and the Dems would not be able to explain to their constituents why they had voted against a continuation of at least some form of subsidy—even if it meant going into Medicaid or declaring a tax credit for their new insurance policies. With the momentum at his back, Ryan figured the Republicans had a good chance of winning everything. So, he gambled everything.
The speaker was always focused more on process than he was on content – a key mistake. His proposal was very clever, but very complicated. It was based on a three-phase strategy:
1) Shape the repeal in the form of a budget reconciliation bill, which needed only a majority of votes in both Houses. However, the reconciliation bill could not include any new legislation. Only changes to existing law could be included.
2) A feature of the Obamacare legislation was a delegation of almost unlimited authority to the HHS Secretary to change any and all regulations pertaining to the implementation of the legislation. With the reaffirmation of this authority, Dr. Tom Price, the new HHS Secretary, could virtually take apart Obamacare brick by brick. This was phase two of Ryan’s strategy.
3) Phase three was when all the good stuff – which requires new laws – could be voted on by both Houses and sent to him president for signature. Victory!
So, what went wrong? Ryan made some key assumptions which turned out to be wrong. The most basic mistake was his assumption that, because only a year ago the House and Senate had placed a comprehensive repeal and replace bill on President Obama’s desk (for veto), consensus among Republicans would be easily achieved.
That assumption should have been tested and accompanied by a national promotion which included all the key constituencies of the Republican Party, and the President should have been enlisted to spearhead the public debate. All this before the introduction of the bill. As it was, there was no consultation outside the small circle of the leadership, and no public consensus to fall back on when troubles arose. Quite the opposite: even the rank and file Representatives had not seen the proposed bill before it was introduced.
The second assumption that proved mistaken was that the House Republican Caucus would understand and trust the complicated process (called “regular order”) proposed by the Speaker. This could not have been farther from the truth.
Larry Fedewa, Ph.D. is a conservative commentator on social and political issues. Former international technology executive, business owner and college president, he lives on an Arabian horse farm near Washington, D.C.
Dr. Larry is the author of more than 150 Washington Times online columns and a frequent guest on radio and television . He is known as an early interpreter of the Donald Trump phenomenon as well as fiscal, racial, and religious trends of the day. He speaks for average people who do not have the time or resources to delve deeply into topics such as the political turmoil Americans are facing, our failing schools, and contemporary social trends. He has become a trusted voice for many fans seeking common sense analysis of the events, people and trends of our times. His website is a running analysis of American life in the 21st century.
By Lawrence J. Fedewa – – Monday, March 13, 2017
A few weeks ago, my column discussed the opponents to Mr. Trump. I divided them into three groups: the true believers, the pragmatists, and the anarchists. Among the pragmatists, I referenced “a church full of relatives”. The excerpt was as follows:
“The pragmatists see everything differently. These people are not extremists. They believe that the status quo ante has worked quite well for the past 50 years, and they do not want to see it replaced with something different which may not work as well and which is therefore a leap in the dark.
“I have a whole church full of relatives who are solidly anti-Trump but are certainly not extremists. They are lifelong Democrats, solid citizens in a Midwestern state (Michigan) which has been governed with few exceptions by union-backed governors and senators ever since the Depression. They are against Mr. Trump because they don’t like his style but primarily because they don’t understand him and don’t agree with what they do understand, a lot of which comes from the heavily biased media. Most Democratic politicians also fall into this category.”
This comment drew the following response from Cousin May:
“I enjoyed reading your recent commentary. I am not so sure I fit into the category you have placed your “church full of relatives”. I am devastated by the election of Donald Trump and have decided to quell my angst by taking action and communicating as much as possible with our elected officials.
Washington (CNN) – Health care costs won’t decrease right away if a Republican plan to replace Obamacare is passed, President Donald Trump warned Monday.